Insulating ceramic thermal barrier coatings can reduce gas turbine airfoil metal temperatures as much as 170 C (about 300 F), providing fuel efficiency improvements greater than one percent and durability improvements of 2 to 3X. The objective was to increase the spalling resistance of zirconia based ceramic turbine coatings. To accomplish this, two baseline and 30 candidate duplex (layered MCrAlY/zirconia based ceramic) coatings were iteratively evaluated microstructurally and in four series of laboratory burner rig tests. This led to the selection of two candidate optimized 0.25 mm (0.010 inch) thick plasma sprayed partially stabilized zirconia ceramics containing six weight percent yttria and applied with two different sets of process parameters over a 0.13 mm (0.005 inch) thick low pressure chamber sprayed MCrAlY bond coat. Both of these coatings demonstrated at least 3X laboratory cyclic spalling life improvement over the baseline systems, as well as cyclic oxidation life equivalent to 15,000 commercial engine flight hours.